About Grey Heron Zen Meditation Dublin
The word ‘zen’ means meditation. To ask which religion it belongs to is like asking which country water comes from. It belongs everywhere. So why bother at all with Zen if meditation is part of every tradition? The reason is that Zen is utterly clear and rigorous and practical about meditation, providing a structure that at once supports and challenges one’s efforts. People who practise Zen are not taking leave of their faith, but attempting to deepen it by using the sharpness and precision of Zen practice to cut through egocentric habits of thought that prevent entry into depth.
To allow everything ‘to be and to mean itself’ is to enter into depth, to contemplate. This is not a journey – ‘passing from one thing to another’ – but rather a cessation of movement. Meister Eckhart, the 14th-century Dominican, described his ‘way’ as ‘a pathless path’ – a phrase that instantly recalls Zen. ‘To study the Way is to study the self; to study the self is to forget the self!’ wrote Dogen Zenji, the 13th-century founder of the Soto Zen school.
Zen without a vibrant community is like a tree without roots. And while it has firm roots in India, China and Japan, this tradition of deep attention is not alien to us here in Ireland. We seek not to just transplant it from its Asian roots, but rather allow it to adapt to and take root in the Irish psyche suffused with the resonances of our rich monastic tradition and deep respect for nature within our Pre-Christian roots.
Where spring rises in the little wood of birch and sycamore beside the house,
I stand and listen to the undying source whispering there.
I’d travel if I could through the lost ages to a distant time when it was sacred, to a pre-Christian God.
I’d tie a token to a thorn, and climb back to the present, sure in the belief we can still touch the origins of life
It is the energy and commitment of the group of practitioners that gathers in Tallaght that has allowed the Sangha to develop and evolve.The Sangha’s energy has taken the group in new and life integrating ways.
In 2019, one of the Sangha, Professor Padraig O’Cearbhaill translated the four vows into Irish and the Evening Gatha. He then brought a sean-nos air to the vows.
The Grey Heron Zen is affiliated through its teacher, Miriam Healy, with The White Plum Asanga founded by Maezumi Roshi of Los Angeles Zen Centre and the Zen Peacemaker Order founded by Roshi Bernie Glassman.
Miriam Healy Roshi
Miriam Healy currently works as a Prison Chaplain. She returned to Ireland in 2015 from the United States having emigrated there in the 1980’s. While there she trained and worked in Theatre, in Education and in Chaplaincy. She studied Zen with Fr. Robert Kennedy, the Jesuit Zen Master, living and working alongside him in Jersey City and travelling to do retreat work with him to England, Ecuador, Mexico, Ireland, and the United States
Miriam received Dharma transmission from Roshi Robert Kennedy on sesshin in Elberon NJ December 2014, and was formally given the title of Roshi in Tallaght at the Summer Zen Sesshin July 2019. She ran Morning Star Zendo in Jersey City for many years before returning home to Ireland.
Mary McGrane is a dharma holder since 2020 and is Roshi Miriam Healy’s first dharma successor. She is the founder of the Grey Heron Zen along with Miriam Healy. She has also sat for many years with Roshi Robert Kennedy. Mary is a former civil servant and now enjoys retirement with her husband.
She is the mother of four adult children and just recently, a grandmother.
Donagh O’Shea OP
Donagh O’Shea is an Irish Dominican, currently director of the Dominican Retreat Centre in Tallaght. He has given retreats and taught courses on spirituality in many parts of the world. He has authored several books, including the forthcoming A Hundred Roads to here: Introductions to Meditation.
He is also a potter, and for forty years has used clay-work to open up new paths to meditation: see his Go down the Potter’s House: a Journey into Meditation (1988). See his website Good News